Songlines | Trio Da Kali & Kronos Quartet

Fusion

Trio Da Kali & Kronos Quartet
Ladilikan (World Circuit)

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You take a classically-trained string ensemble from the US and a trio of young Malian traditionalists and the result is a uniquely transcendent new kind of global chamber music. Ever sensitive to their collaborators, for the most part Kronos Quartet hush their chamber strings and offer sympathetic underpinning as they let the African trio of Mamadou Kouyaté (ngoni), Lassana Diabaté (balafon) and the thrillingly big voice of Hawa Diabaté strut their formidable stuff. All three represent a new generation of Malian musicianship – Mamadou is the eldest son of the ngoni’s most revered exponent, Bassekou Kouyaté; Hawa is the daughter of Mali’s great traditional singer, Kassé Mady Diabaté, and Lassana has played with Toumani Diabaté’s Symmetric Orchestra.

Recorded in four days with the two groups playing live together and overdubs kept to a minimum, the material is smartly chosen and brilliantly arranged by Jacob Garchik. Ranging from traditional African material to a brace of Mahalia Jackson gospel tunes, producer Nick Gold has done a skilful job in calibrating the different elements to perfection. First violinist David Harrington, who founded the string quartet in 1973, claims the album as “one of the most beautiful Kronos has done in 40 years.” It’s a huge call, given the group’s glittering track record – but he’s not wrong.

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